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In Christ, Like Christ

Galatians 3:27 states, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (ESV). In the context of Galatians 3:26–29 and 3:7–29 as a whole, Paul’s point is to stress that everyone who believes (including Gentiles) is in Christ and thus an heir to God’s promise of blessing to Abraham. By taking a moment to focus on the metaphors of this verse (baptism and clothing) and comparing their similarities to other passages, we can also see a simple thought and a good reminder—being in Christ means we should be like Christ.

The first metaphor involves baptism—when we believe, we are baptized into Christ. To be baptized into Him means that the Spirit of God has placed the believer in Christ and thus His body, the church (1 Cor 12:13). The second metaphor involves clothing—to “put on” something could also be translated to “clothe.” Thus, those baptized into Christ have also been clothed with Christ (so says Galatians 3:27).

Using the same verb, Paul commands elsewhere, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14 ESV). Putting on Christ is matched by not just putting off but also making no provision for fleshly, self-gratifying desires. Taking it a step further, we could say that to have “learned Christ” (Eph 4:20) is to have learned “to put off your old self” and “to put on the new self” (Eph 4:22, 24 ESV). Negatively, we are to shed and strip ourselves of all that we were when we were once mastered by sin. Positively, we are to be clothed with all that adorns someone who is now in Christ—our clothing should match who we are in Christ.

Making it very practical, when Paul speaks in this way, he also lists out various ways that we should abstain from sin and live like Christ. From passages that surround the verses mentioned above and others like it (Ephesians 4:25–32; see also Romans 13:11–14; Colossians 3:5–17), we could make a helpful couple of lists to see what should not and should adorn who we are as those who have been baptized into Christ. Negatively, we should cease from lying, stealing, corrupt talk, engaging in any kind of unrighteous anger towards others, any form of sexual immorality, and covetousness. Positively, we should love one another, speak the truth, work heartily and honestly in order to share with others, speak grace to our hearers, bear with their faults, and be kind, forgiving, compassionate, humble, meek, and patient. We could easily expand both lists, and Paul did not intend to be exhaustive.

Again, these things are simple in one sense, but they are sometimes difficult to do. Don’t let a good reminder pass you by. As we go into a new year and at any time, may we clothe ourselves with Christ and live out who we are in Him.

About David Huffstutler

David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, serves as a chaplain for his local police department, and teaches as adjunct faculty at Bob Jones University. David holds a Ph. D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.